Strike in Kashmir against government’s use of NIA

Srinagar: In view of the summoning of the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) president Mohammad Yasin Khan by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to its headquarters in New Delhi in relation to alleged funding case, a shutdown was observed across the Valley here on Monday. Restrictions were also imposed by the state government in several areas of old Srinagar to thwart any protests. Khan and University of Kashmir’s research scholar Aala Fazil were examined by the central probe agency in New Delhi on September 25.

Streets in and around city-centre presented deserted look in view of a day-long shutdown called by KTMF and supported by Joint Separatist Leadership here on September 25.

A day-long strike called by KTMF was supported by Joint Separatist Leadership comprising of the chairmen of both the factions of Hurriyat (Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq) and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik. The trio in a statement here on September 24 said that New Delhi was using the central agency as a “war weapon to harass oppressed and suppressed people of the state.” Criticizing the Enforcement Directorate for filing a charge sheet against senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, the trio termed it as “sheer political vendetta.” The Enforcement Directorate, September 23, told a Delhi court that Shah has admitted to receiving funds from “Pakistan’s terror outfits to spread terror in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India.”

The statement further alleged that NIA was framing fabricated cases against separatists to defame the freedom movement as part of pre-planned psychological crackdown so that the leadership and activists surrender and stop voicing the sentiments of people. “However, people are politically mature enough and realize the follies played by Indian authorities. Kashmir is a political and human issue and its political solution is inevitable,” it said.

The High Court Bar Association in a statement here supported the strike call by the traders body and requested all the Bar members to abstain from court work on September 25 in protest against summoning of dozens of Kashmiris by NIA to Delhi, including KTMF president, a Kashmir University research scholar and many others, “only to tease, torture and humiliate the people of Kashmir.”

Meanwhile, life came to a standstill in view of the shutdown. Streets and markets presented a deserted look and commercial establishments remained closed especially in the commercial hub, Lal Chowk area of Srinagar. Public transport mostly remained off the roads while private vehicles plied normally. Train services, however, remain suspended. Educational institutions mostly remained closed.

Scores of traders here on September 25 staged a sit-in to protest the summoning of their president by NIA and reiterated their resolve to continue protests till their president returns.

Earlier, condemning summons by NIA to the president of KTMF and University of Kashmir’s research scholar, Hurriyat (M) spokesperson in a statement here on September 24said that these moves were clearly aimed at using NIA and Enforcement Directorateas tools of the state to harass and intimidate people. “Kashmir issue is a reality accepted by the world community as there are already 18 UN resolutions pending implementation in the UN Security Council.” 

The NIA had registered a case on May 30 to probe alleged cross-border funding to sponsor the unrest in the Valley. Theagency has so far arrested 10 people including Altaf Ahmed Shah, Geelani’s son-in-law in connection with its probe.